For several years now, I have been promoting that worksite wellness programs need to be both comprehensive and integrated in their approach. By comprehensive, I mean the delivery of programming in the areas of awareness, education, lifestyle management, disease management and organization health. By integrated, I mean programs not only need to be integrated into the organization’s structure and business model, but also integrated with other employee benefit programs such as safety, work-life, corporate social responsibility and similar employee wellbeing type programs. As a result of my reading a recent Health Affairs blog post, I am now thinking that cumulative needs to be added to the comprehensive and integrated word list.
The blog authors suggested that a conceptual approach to employee health and wellness has evolved “along a continuum of five cumulative stages.” When I looked at their stages, it occurred to me that the cumulative effect can also apply to the execution of wellness and wellbeing concepts or models as well. Their five stages are:
1. Health care cost control or utilization management
2. Disease management
3. Health and productivity management
4. Population health
5. Culture of health
Health Care Cost Control or Utilization Management
Most worksite wellness programs today are started with the hope that they will reduce the employer’s ever-increasing healthcare or health insurance premium related costs. My understanding of the research literature is that it is only comprehensive wellness programs that will impact costs and unfortunately, most programs today are not comprehensive in their approach.